The AO House is jumping into the holiday season with full force. It’s hard to believe that the first-week fun is over, let alone that we are three weeks away from the end of the first semester! Please enjoy this digital photo album as a recap of this year’s activities:
Mid September we had our annual fall retreat, this time taking place at the beautiful Trinity Lutheran Camp on Flathead Lake. Our weekend haven was marked by oceanic-size waves, high wind gusts, fog, and rain. As opposed to dismal, the damp weather helped us all slow down, rest, and recharge from the overflowing energy of AO life and the challenges of being students during the COVID-19 epoch. House parents Deb and Jeff along with board members led thought-provoking conversations ranging from self-identity to friendship and community as reflections of Christ’s love. This year’s crew is brimming with strong-willed, energetic and diverse characters brought together by the common desire for friendship, genuine fun, and a space in which to find both, perhaps this year more than ever.
Retreat gave us an opportunity to look at the year ahead with intent and lay the foundations for where it will go and how we want to live, both as individuals and in relationship with one another.
| || |
As was inevitable with a house of 21 students leading their “normal” ish student lives, we finally had a run-in with the virus. Even with masks, cleaning, distancing and all the precautions taken by people of the world these days, one of our members contracted COVID, sending us into a 14 day shut-down. With the help of incredibly responsive staff and nothing short of a miracle, our ill member recovered well without a single other case cropping up.
It was a long two weeks of wearing masks and distancing (as best we could) from each-other, but a few creative and vibrant characters helped keep the energy alive with themed dinners, projector movie nights, and Romeo-Juliet esk convos with our Quarantiner from the apartment window. As unsettling as the situation was, most of us walked away feeling like what could have been a disaster was a sanctified period of rest.
Just last night we celebrated Spooky Season with an epic and somewhat more participant-friendly version of the well-known Hunger Games.
Each student was selected as tribute to represent their district at the 74th annual Hunger Games. Donning themed garb from each district for the parade and opening ceremonies, participants dined together at the grand feast, were addressed by President Snow himself via electronic projection, and earned points for various training exercises such as pumpkin carving and relay races before heading to the arena for the Games. The warm and crackling fire by the Payne Family Native American Center on campus was home-base from where the tributes set out in search of scavenger items, trying to avoid other teams lest their flag be ripped from their arms in mortal defeat. It was quite the production, full of silliness, laughter, and refreshing liveliness before this semester’s final push.
We are so grateful for all the people who make AO life possible, not to mention a joy. May you continue learning and growing in your relationships as we do every day at the House, looking for good, and spreading peace. We need it in this world!
Blessings to you, and in all you do, MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOR!